(March 9, 2012) In math and science both, students struggle with academic vocabulary, interpreting charts and graphs in different contexts, and transferring data. One likely issue is a tendency in instruction to isolate classroom activities to the point that students don’t experience the concepts in different contexts. Paula Johnson, M.A., and Veronica Betancourt, M.A., share examples of how teachers can be intentional about modeling and creating opportunities for students to use academic language in practice and transfer knowledge across the curriculum at all grade levels. Paula and Veronica are interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. Send comments to
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* Paula and Veronica discusses performance indicators from the Texas Education Agency, focusing on the areas where students consistently perform the weakest: academic vocabulary, understanding data in charts and graphs, and transferring information from one format or context to another.
* Paula and Veronica talk about a national initiative around understanding and interpreting data in the five dimensions of mathematical proficiency and science inquiry, and how this is applied in the classroom at different grade levels.
* Veronica describes and gives an example of the “think aloud” modeling technique for teaching students to transfer information from one context to another.
* Aurelio asks Paula and Veronica why teaching academic vocabulary in math and science is so challenging.
* Paula talks about the “total physical response” method or using music or poetry as options that can be woven into teaching math and science concepts.
* Veronica explains how teachers can use patterns and trends to help explain abstract concepts at the micro and macro levels, where students often struggle in science.
* Veronica and Paula offer final words of advice to teachers who are struggling to teach academic vocabulary and data comprehension/transfer in math and science.
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